The NVIDIA Chip That Inspired a California Crop Circle

tegra-k1-chipshotSunday night, Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ:NVDA) unveiled a new mobile graphics chip that promises to be game-changer. In the past, Nvidia has based their business on creating chips which help produce photo-realistic images and graphics on PCs, but now they seem to be turning their eye on mobile devices, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Nvidia’s CEO veritably beams with pride at the new creation, “Tegra K1 is perhaps the most ambitious project we’ve ever worked on” Jen-Hsun Huang said at a press event which Forbes attended, “It’s impossibly advanced,” he added.

But what, exactly, makes the Tegra K1 such a step-up when compared with previous iterations? Well, for one, the chip boasts essentially the same graphics architecture as a PC using an Nvidia chip. The Tegra K1 has 192 graphics cores, four ARM cores, and runs the programming technology Unreal Engine 4, which is often used in PC games, reports the Wall Street Journal blog. In essence, you’ve got “the horsepower of a gaming console in the palm of your hand,” Jen-Hsun Huang says.

The Tegra K1 chip possesses the technology to make images on mobile devices are going to look much more engaging, reports the Wall Street Journal. In the past, Nvidia’s graphics chips have primarily been used for PC gaming, supercomputing, and workstation applications; the company is hoping that the K1 will help it expand it’s presence in the smartphone market. Huang noted that the K1, “brings next generations graphic on a mobile device for the first time.” It’s also the first chip to be shown to run Google’s Android operating system in 64-bit mode, per Forbes.

It seems that Huang’s plans for the Tegra K1 don’t stop with the smartphone market. It seems a version of the K1 design which would be specifically outfitted for use in vehicles is in the works. Bringing such a powerful chip into a car means big things for driver assistance: the K1 chip could help with such tasks as object recognition, collision avoidance, and other capabilities leading in the direction of a self-driving car which is essentially on “autopilot.”

The prodigious chip inspired a rather unusual marketing campaign as well: Huang apparently instructed his marketing team to come up with a suitably creative campaign for the Tegra without breaking the bank. The result? A crop circle in a Silicon Valley barley field two hours south of San Francisco in the town of Chualar. The crop circle inspired a buzz of local speculation and reporters from local news stations eventually noted that the symbols spelled out 192, for the number of cores in the Tegra chip, in Braille, according to Forbes.

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